`Belgrade Six' trial

The article ``Open and nonaligned, Yugoslavia prospers'' [Nov. 24] is inaccurate in its description of the ``Belgrade Six'' trial and the current status of the defendents. The trial of the Belgrade Six was one of the largest show trials in Eastern Europe since the Stalinist era and the first major political trial in Belgrade since President Tito's death.

The writer states that ``when six dissidents were arrested in Belgrade a few years ago `for defaming the state,' critical articles appeared in many American papers. The dissidents since have been released.''

But the defendants have not all been released. As of July 17, 1986, writer Miodrag Milic began serving his sentence, which had been reduced upon appeal to 1 years.

At this writing, another member of the Belgrade Six - sociologist Milan Nikolic - is under severe threat of being sent to prison to serve an eight-month sentence, having exhausted his possibilities for appeal and postponement. It should also be noted that Vladimir Seks, the defense attorney at the trial, was himself subjected to imprisonment for seven months on charges of ``hostile propaganda'' for a previous ``verbal crime.'' He has since been disbarred and is unemployed.

In addition, not all Yugoslavs ``can travel whenever they want,'' as the article claims. Prof. Vojislav Seselj, a sociologist arrested at the time of the crackdown on the ``free university'' that led to the Belgrade Six trial, served 22 months in prison. He is currently denied a passport to travel abroad.

The Belgrade Six trial aroused international pressure on the Yugoslav government, which was instrumental in gaining the release of some of the defendants, the acquittal of others, and reduced sentences for two.

Nevertheless, the imprisonment of Milic and the imminent imprisonment of Nikolic demand that a renewed campaign be launched on their behalf. It is important that public opinion be properly informed about their plight. Janet Fleischman Helsinki Watch Catherine Fitzpatrick New York

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.